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The Planet

Al Gore AWOL on Air Regs

The Planet, July/August 1997, Volume 4, number 6

Club Keeps Up Pressure for Strong Standards

As The Planet went to press June 18, the Sierra Club continued to push the Clinton administration -- notably the all but invisible vice president -- to hold firm and support the clean air standards for smog and soot proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency last fall. A decision is expected before Congress' summer recess.

The Sierra Club has been generating thousands of letters and calls to the White House in favor of the standards and taking the case to the media. Kathryn Hohmann, the Club's director of environmental quality, gained press coverage with her recent "Where's Al?" tour of New England -- where she called on the vice president to come out for the air standards.

Industry-backed opposition has pumped millions of dollars into a media campaign portraying stronger emissions standards as a "costly rush to judgment" and an assault on the backyard grill. In June, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and 52 House Democrats presented a letter to Congress in support of the EPA proposal; signatories blasted industry for "mounting a multi-million-dollar propaganda campaign to frighten and confuse the public on the standards." More recently, Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Ron Klink (D-Penn.) responded with a letter of their own that proposes delaying EPA clean air standards for five years.

Meanwhile, the Clinton administration has been absent from the fray and, instead, is backing off substantially from the tougher EPA standards by seeking to soften allowable emissions violations in cities from three to eight per year. But agency chief Carol Browner has indicated she is standing by the EPA's original proposal.

"There's still time to let the president and vice president know that the American public has the right to breathe healthy air," said Hohmann. "After all, we can't breathe the money!"

To take action: Call the Club Legislative Hotline for up-to-the-minute details at (202) 675-2394.

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